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Esoterica On The Edge

Previously Published in Whiplash Magazine 2007 before they went bust!

Dance Upon the Edge

by Domina Doll

Esoterica n : secrets known only to an initiated minority.—Encyclopedia Esoterica

on the edge (Idioms): 1. In a precarious position. 2. In a state of keen excitement, as from danger or risk: “of living on the edge…”–Nelson DeMille

In the BDSM community, edge play has diverse connotations depending on whom you ask. It can mean playing with sharp instruments such as knives, razors or needles. It may describe dangerous play such as asphyxiation, blood sports, suspension or mind control. To many edge play means walking “on the edge” of what is taboo and forbidden; “on the edge” of real hurt, or fear. Edge play means pushing past one’s personal limits and boundaries into that terrifying inner world where we face our demons. It is the ultimate mind fuck.

Fear and lust lay at the depths of our primordial beings. These instincts, the most fundamental of our emotions, are what harbored our species from extinction. Both embody a compelling element of danger. Together, they form the dynamic tension of opposites, manifesting the same physical responses in our bodies, causing our pulse to quicken, our breath to become irregular, our knees to grow weak, our limbs to quiver, and sending shivers of ecstasy throughout our entire being. Jung believed we are in a constant state of flux between this “tension of opposites”, the unconscious longing of our lust for fear.

Extreme activity always carries with it an element of fear and risk. But it is that risk that makes it so erotic and captivating. Through challenging our boundaries and facing our fears we are able to grow as individuals. Edge play offers us the potential to expand our experiences, to embark on new journeys into different realms, to go deeper, to fly higher than one has ever gone before. Edge play allows one to journey to the other side of pain.

The journey into the soul begins with a leap into the abyss. It is here that we challenge the Shadow self, the sentinel of the psyche who holds the key to our repressed desires, depraved impulses, perceived transgressions and fears. The pain and suffering of masochism allows us to connect with the Shadow through “acts of initiation” or what Jung referred to as the Night Sea Journey.

Throughout history, humankind has used pain as a catalyst to go beyond the self, to embark on spiritual journeys and vision quests, to undergo “rites of passage” in which one transcends the ego and embraces the shadow self in order to unite Ego to Soul and give birth to the Self. These sacraments included the orgiastic rites of Dionysus, the Native American Sun Dancers who underwent intense physical ordeals, the eunuch worshippers of Cybele who practised self-castration, the Zen Buddhists who used the rod for disciples and the Christian Flagellants who beat themselves into a frenzied state as an act of penance.

Masochism is the modern equivalent to these lost rites. In terms of the BDSM experience, channelling sensory and emotional stimulation can move one from subspace to a deeper level of consciousness know as “altered states” which allows one emotional release or catharsis. It is in these states that the mind may commune with the body. By confronting our fears, we confront the Shadow, thus removing the power that fear holds over us.

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